When you eat, small pieces of food tend to stick into pits, gaps and fissures in your teeth and cause them to decay. This is especially true for chewing teeth, i.e. the premolars and the molars, located in remote areas of the mouth that are hard to access and clean.
One of the most effective solutions to help safeguard against tooth decay is to place dental sealants that cover up these gaps. Just like a coat of armor, these block your teeth against the bacteria that keep trying to attack them!
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin coatings placed over the surfaces of the chewing back teeth to prevent them from decaying. Most fissures and gaps in these teeth can be hard to clean, since in addition to their remoteness, they may be too narrow or deep for toothbrush bristles to clean effectively.
Plaque collects in these gaps, creating a lush ground for bacterial accumulation, which in turn wreaks havoc on tooth enamel and can lead to cavities. While regular and thorough brushing and flossing helps remove food particles, the brush and floss may not be able to reach remoter spaces in the back teeth to clean out plaque or food particle buildup there.
This is what a dental sealant is designed to tackle. It fills in the depressions and gaps in teeth, creates a protective layer over the tooth enamel, and effectively “seals out” harmful plaque and bacteria.
When should you get Dental Sealants?
Sealants can provide an extra protective film against tooth decay, and reduce the chance of chewing surface cavities from 50%-70%!
- These preventive dentistry solutions are appropriate at any age. Historically, they have been used for small children and teenagers, who face a higher likelihood of developing tooth decay in the gaps and fissures of their molar and premolar teeth. However, current research shows that they are just as beneficial for adults as well.
- From 6 to 13 or 14 years of age, a child is most at risk from tooth cavities. To be most effective, sealants should be placed in the gaps of permanent premolars and molars as soon as their chewing surfaces erupt. This will seal the fissures and prevent decay from setting in during the cavity-prone period.
- The molars and premolars continue to emerge until the child is 11-13 years old, and the sealant coating can be applied over the chewing surfaces of these teeth to supplement oral health.
- Sealants can also be useful in protecting the grooves and gaps in your child’s baby teeth. By adding sealants, their baby teeth will be sealed with a protective layer and won’t break prematurely.
What does the Procedure Entail?
- The procedure for applying sealants is pretty straightforward and painless. It usually takes a few minutes at most for the coating to be placed over each tooth.
- We will begin by cleaning out your teeth with a rotating brush and a cleaning paste.
- The teeth are rinsed with water and then dried, with an absorbent material such as cotton to keep them dry.
- The chewing surfaces of teeth are then coated with an acid solution to coarsen them; the solution is then dried off. This enables the sealant to gel better with the tooth.
- The teeth are again rinsed and dried, and the tooth enamel is then painted with a coat of sealant.
- A blue light is then used to harden the sealant, but sometimes a dual-component sealant may be applied which sets without a light. Once dry, the sealant becomes a hard, varnish-like coating.
We’ve all heard that prevention is better than cure, and this couldn’t be more true for dental health. Dr. Patel can give your teeth the extra protection of sealants, which is like showing them just how much you care. Trust us when we say your teeth will thank you for it!